Wednesday, February 25, 2009
One of the poems I remember reading as a child is "Leisure," by the Welsh poet W. H. Davies. "What is this life if full of care/We have no time to stand and stare?" went the opening verse.
My life is filled with no more than the average cares, or stresses, that any working woman -- or man -- goes through. And yet those stresses are considerable, robbing me often of the simple pleasures that I know I ought to take time to savor.
But every once in a while, I remind myself of those lines from Davies' poem. I don't ever want to forget them.
I am a big believer in leisure, and I try to grab at it when I can, even when it's hard to. And I don't mean planned leisure, like vacations, although I love those too.
Instead, I try to steal moments in my day when I can enjoy the world around me.
When I drive, I leave the cell phone in my bag. Instead, I watch the world around me go by-- the people on a bus running next to me, reading or talking to each other or knitting or just looking out. People walking dogs on the streets, or jogging. Homes with neat yards and children playing out front. Seeing the world around me makes me happy, makes me feel connected in a way no newspaper or television show can.
When I walk my dogs, I try to enjoy it as much as they do (well, almost), even if I have a million things still left to do when I get back home. Because I know it means a lot to them, and they mean a lot to me. Besides, it is so rewarding to see their tails wag as they run from tree to tree trying to get a whiff of everything that happened between now and the last walk.
And then there are those moments when I indulge myself by doing absolutely nothing. Nothing at all. And although something like that can be seen as a negative in our multitasking society where even a moment is too precious to lose, let me tell you, there's nothing as redeeming as a moment of pure self-indulgence.
So try it, if you don't already. Take those moments in your day to enjoy what you do, without worrying about when you can get it done. Or put away that cellphone, power off the computer, and don't even think about anything remotely stressful.
And once you've recharged, go into the kitchen and make yourself some of this delicious Bread Pudding Topped With Strawberry Compote. Cut yourself a generous piece, curl up on the couch, and relish every bite.
Trust me, you'll be reborn.
Bread Pudding Topped With Strawberry Compote
8-10 slices of white whole-wheat bread. Trim off the crusts which you can use to make breadcrumbs for another time. Then cut the bread into 1/2-inch cubes. You should have about 5 cups of bread. (I love white whole-wheat because it's more delicate than regular whole-wheat but it's also wholegrain. So that's like having your bread and eating it too. But if you can't find it, use regular white bread. I'd advise against brown whole-wheat because the flavor might be a tad too strong for the pudding).
1/2 cup raisins
3 cups almond milk (use vanilla soy milk if you can't find this)
1 tsp cinnamon powder
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cup sugar
6 tsp EnerG egg replacer (or corn starch), mixed with 8 tbsp water.
Whisk together the cinnamon, vanilla, sugar and egg replacer. Then whisk in the almond milk until everything's incorporated.
In a greased square baking dish (mine's about 9 inches square), spread out the bread evenly. Scatter the raisins on top. Now pour the almond milk mixture on top. Soak for about 30 minutes, pressing on the bread with a ladle periodically to ensure the bread gets evenly soaked.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Place the pudding in a water bath (a larger dish filled with about 1 inch of water).
Bake for 75-80 minutes or until puffy and golden on top.
Serve warm with strawberry compote (recipe follows), or even by itself. It's delicious either way.
1 pound strawberries, hulled and then cut into slices
1/4 -1/2 cup sugar (use more or less depending on the tartness of your strawberries)
1 stick cinnamon
Place the strawberries, sugar and cinnamon in a saucepan and cook on medium heat until the strawberries break down and express their juices. Continue cooking on low heat about 10 minutes.
Spoon the compote over the pudding and serve.